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Daydream Nation - Blu-ray Review

{2jtab: Movie Review}

Daydream Nation - Blu-ray Review

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3 Stars

The high school coming of age narrative is never out of fashion – especially when it is done correctly.  Noodling from the likes of Juno, Heathers, and Donnie Darko, Michael Goldbach’s Daydream Nation (a title borrowed from Sonic Youth’s 1988 album) isn’t an easy film to digest with its serial killer undertones, but it does have its moments of cleverness and poetic beauty.  Fortunately, it doesn’t quite deliver on its hipper-than-thou image and remains fairly grounded in its uncelebrated British Columbia surroundings.

Daydream Nation focuses its narrative on a voluptuous young woman, Caroline Wexler (Kat Dennings), as she begins her senior year of high school in a new town.  Bored to tears by the pot-smoking teens that surround her, Caroline takes matters into her own hands and makes herself more than available to her single English teacher, Barry Anderson (Josh Lucas). Anderson is himself a quasi-loser.  He’s a failed novelist, now writing about his affair with Caroline with candor and eventually reveals a bit of the passionate (albeit misguided) disconnect he is suffering from in terms of reality and his place within it.  Equally lost in the chemical fog that placates British Columbia (trust me, a plot point) is Thurston (Reece Thompson) and, when faced with relationship extinction at the hands of a female gym teacher, the sarcastic Caroline focuses her fangs on his virgin skin.  Yet, lurking about in the distance is a man in white who keeps murdering young girls.

If the plot sounds disjointed, well, that’s the point because such is life.  Yet, it all comes together rather nicely in a sort of expressionistic and angsty way.  This is a movie for anyone who has felt odd or unaccepted simply because they are new or different.  It’s snarky – with Dennings giving a fantastic performance full of wit, confusion, and wanton desire – and scathing as it rails against the type of life most teens drown themselves in when they live inside a town with “nothing” to do.  Not as pop culture-fueled as Juno but equally engaging, Daydream Nation touches on some of the same themes but with a little less force.  Some audiences will appreciate this and some will find it a little weak.  That’s where the film spends most of its time: somewhere in the middle of matters.

Writer/director Goldbach isn’t yet as focused as we would like him to be, but he does present some pretty interesting moments of surrealistic happenings inside this indie film.  Moments including a chemical haze outlining the town’s perimeters, the chapters of the film when it goes into episodic moments, and Thurston’s own high-as-a-kite mentality as he “floats” through school are pretty epic on the small-scale and they do show promise.  Still, the sadness that weights each frame of the narrative down can be a bit overwhelming especially when faces with an ending that appears more magical than the melancholy narrative has prepared one for.

Daydream Nation does have a voice and it’s a voice that often goes unheard in Hollywood.  It’s an honest gesture at portraying teenagers as something more than just little people and it tackles some pretty big issues.  If this is Goldbach’s beginning in feature films, grand things can only be in store for the next outing.

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{2jtab: Film Details}

Daydream Nation - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: R for drug and alcohol use, sexual content, language and some violent images - all involving teens.
Director: Michael Goldbach
Writer: Michael Goldbach
Cast: Kat Dennings; Reece Thompson; Josh Lucas; Andie MacDowell; Rachel Blanchard; Natasha Calis
Genre
: Drama | Romance
Tagline:
Daydream Nation
Memorable Movie Quote: "There are some things that are destined to occur, and nobody can do anything to stop it."
Distributor:
Anchor Bay Films
Release Date:
September 10, 2010 - Toronto International Film Festival
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 17, 2011

Synopsis: Daydream Nation tells the story of a city girl who moves to a small town and becomes entangled in a love triangle between her highschool teacher and a stoner classmate.

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{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Daydream Nation - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
3 Stars

2 stars



Blu-ray Experience
2.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - May 17, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, Spanish
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)

Present by Anchor Bay, Daydream Nation sports a pretty impressive 1080p transfer. The colors are toasty warm and blacks are level-solid throughout; shadows are defined and not murky without borders.  The film was shot with a digital camera so there are a few shortcomings in grain and texture, but overall this is another in a long line of solid-looking releases from Anchor Bay. The TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack that surrounds the picture is pretty resilient and adds the needed dynamics to keep the picture popping along with its soundtrack aimed at the indie crowd.

Supplements:

Commentary:

Special Features:

There is a brief and fairly standard making of featurette which talks a little about the behind-the-scenes happenings and character development of the movie.  Goldbach talks briefly of the film’s inspiration and of the casting choices.  Unfortunately, outside of a trailer for the film, there is little else to whet the appetite.

{2jtab: Trailer}

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